Higuma was a mountain bandit and the leader of the Higuma Bandits. He was the first antagonist to be introduced in the series, and the first of three in the Romance Dawn Arc (third of three in the anime).
Higuma was a tall, tan-skinned man with black hair, a black goatee, and an X-shaped scar above his right eye. He wore a long red coat over a white shirt, black trousers, and a golden necklace.
Higuma was an arrogant, brutish man, always ready to boast about himself and brutalize the weak, including children. Having lived inland for all his life, he developed a particularly low opinion of pirates upon meeting the Red Hair Pirates, deeming them all "cowards" when their captain refused to be baited into a fight.
Like most brutes, he had little courage of his own, and reacted poorly to genuine danger. When the Red Hair Pirates seriously fought—and effortlessly crushed—his henchmen, and again when the Lord of the Coast attacked him, he could only panic and scramble for his own life.
Abilities and Powers
Higuma was the leader of his own bandit gang, and powerful enough to have earned a bounty of 8,000,000 (notably higher than the average East Blue bounty of 3,000,000). By his own account, he had killed fifty-six people. Nevertheless, a mere fraction of the Red Hair Pirates' power was enough to intimidate him into running.
He also possessed some cunning, keeping a smoke-bomb ready for emergency escapes and reasoning that nobody would anticipate a mountain bandit like himself hiding out at sea. However, he was notably ignorant about the sea itself—in particular the vicious Sea King that dwelled near Foosha Village, which ultimately cost him his life.
At some point in his life, Higuma became a mountain bandit and earned a bounty of 8,000,000 for killing 56 people.
Romance Dawn Arc
While the Red Hair Pirates were staying in Foosha Village during Monkey D. Luffy's childhood, Higuma and his bandits entered the Partys Bar looking for sake. After commenting on how stupid the pirates looked, Higuma told Makino that he and his bandits simply wanted ten barrels of sake and were not there to cause trouble, only to be surprised when Makino told him that they had no more sake. When Higuma asked her what the pirates were drinking, Makino admitted it was sake before stating that was all they had, prompting Shanks, who was sitting nearby, to offer Higuma the last bottle of sake as an apology. However, not content with this much sake, Higuma angrily smashed the bottle, sending its contents flying all over Shanks, before showing Shanks his wanted poster and bragging about having a bounty of 8,000,000 and how he had killed 56 people. Higuma warned Shanks to not mess with him again, and when Shanks attempted to clean up the mess, Higuma slashed the rest of his food with his sword, dirtying Shanks even more, before leaving the bar with his bandits, whom he told that they were going to the next town in search of sake.
Later, as Luffy was sitting in the Partys Bar and talking about Shanks's action with Makino, Higuma and his bandits returned, with Higuma noting that it is quiet without the pirates around. After sitting down with his bandits, Higuma demanded that Makino bring them some sake, While drinking, Higuma stated that he wanted to kill cowards like Shanks on sight and claimed that pirates only know how to act cool, which prompted Luffy to berate him for underestimating Shanks like this.
This angered Higuma, who dragged Luffy outside before he and his bandits tried to beat him up. However, they found that punches and kicks would not hurt Luffy, and upon stretching Luffy's cheek, Higuma surmised that he was a "Rubber Man". After throwing Luffy away, Higuma noted that he could make a lot of money by selling Luffy to a circus before stomping on Luffy's head and forcing him to the ground when the latter tried to attack him. Higuma asked Luffy if they said something that made him mad, and as Luffy told him to apologize immediately, Woop Slap arrived and begged Higuma to release Luffy in exchange for money. Noting that elders like Woop Slap know how to deal with this sort of situation, Higuma proclaimed that it was too late to save Luffy because he hated weaklings insulting him. When Luffy claimed it was his fault, Higuma unsheathed his sword and prepared to kill him, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Shanks.
Questioning why Shanks had returned, Higuma told him to not come any closer unless he wanted to get shot. After Lucky Roux killed a bandit who put a gun to Shanks's head and Shanks proclaimed that he would never forgive someone who hurt his friends, an amused Higuma claimed they would destroy pirates like Shanks who float around on a ship all day before having his bandits attack the pirates, only for Benn Beckman to effortlessly defeat them. Higuma nervously claimed that Luffy is the one who started this, but Shanks stated that it did not matter because there is a bounty on Higuma's head. Realizing he was outmatched, Higuma threw down a smoke bomb and grabbed Luffy before escaping.
Soon afterward, Higuma got a boat and set sail on the ocean with Luffy in tow. After congratulating himself for his strategy of escaping via boat, Higuma decided that he no longer needed Luffy and kicked him into the ocean. He watched with sadistic glee as Luffy struggled to swim (due to having eaten a Devil Fruit), but as he watched, the Lord of the Coast rose from the sea behind him. His joy then quickly turned to horror as the Sea King devoured him whole.
Although Higuma was a weakling who met his well-deserved fate, his final actions ultimately caused Shanks to sacrifice one of his arms in order to save Luffy's life, though it hadn't weakened him in the slightest. The event also led to Luffy dedicating himself to becoming the next Pirate King, leading him to becoming one of the most well-known pirates in the world.
Translation and Dub Issues
His name is the same as the name of brown bears in Japanese. It is generally understood that the VIZ translation implemented his English epithet "The Bear" to retain the character's original name while also informing the English-speaking audience of its meaning.
- Before his death, Higuma bragged about having an 8,000,000 bounty on his head and even carried around his own "Wanted" poster to prove it. This is the first mention of bounties in the manga.
- He was the first mountain bandit to appear in the series.
- Higuma shares some similarities with Agotogi: both are bandits and both served as the main villain of another character's childhood flashback (Luffy and Vivi respectively).
- Higuma's favorite foods are sake, mountain vegetables, and bear meat.